I’ve nearly died enough times that I often can’t help but think about my legacy. I think about the lonely grave I’ll leave behind (since my wife has said, were I to die, she’d most likely be buried with a subsequent husband), my by-lines on ever-fading sheets of newsprint in the dark loft of a newspaper’s morgue and this blog, which will fade quietly into the fog of the digital ether like so many Geocities abominations.
Or my daughter who, if my demise is imminent, would not likely remember me anyway. Rather, she’d remember someone else as daddy, probably the man with whom my widow would be buried.
There’s not much, no.
While walking down a trail near my office, I came upon a park bench that bore a plaque, the inscription of which detailed how the item was lovingly given in memory of a cherished loved one.
And I became inspired.
First, I decided that I would go ahead and begin preemptively donating things in my own memory – park benches, trees, anonymous looking bricks in large construction projects, that sort of thing. I’d save my money a little at a time, and every few months, I’d write a check to do something in my memory.
But then I made the next logical step: it is not so much the item that has been donated that is the memorial, necessarily, but rather the inscription upon the item that was donated. In other words, I don’t need to spend a small fortune on benches and trees and swings and shit so that people might remember my name through the years – I just need a rather ample supply of bronze-looking plaques that I can stick to such things.
A large box full of adhesive plaques, inscribed “Given in Loving Memory of Tony,” is the ticket to my immortality.
I could affix these things onto all manner of surfaces – benches, street signs, storefronts, parking decks – and, given the polity and norms of this historically congenial region, who would dare question or deface a memorial? Such things are simply not done.
Better, I could have the dedication come from a variety of sources. Besides my family – who, a regular visitor to this blog would note, would be an unlikely source for such remembrances – I could be loved by the Masons, the NAACP, a variety of churches and religious organizations, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the John Birch Society and the Southern Poverty Law Center and SCLC. I could be remembered by golfing buddies I never had, the car club I never joined or, of course, the American Legion!
Sure, sure – you’re defacing public property, you say. Or it’s disingenuous to begin planning memorials for yourself while still alive, you’ll sing. Perhaps these are heinous acts of vandalism, for which I will certainly face charges, you’ll cry. To which, I say: whatever. Whenever the end comes, I’m certain that it will be inopportune, and I’m further sure that it’ll be hard enough to find able-bodied men willing to sacrifice their backs to serve as pallbearers after I go to believe that I’ll long be missed. Few of us have as long on this rock as we’d like, and those who have made peace with their end are very small in number.
I want to be embalmed, as a means to ensure that I’m sufficiently dead, and I want to be buried in a sealed vault, so as I’ll leave behind a beautiful corpse for the return of Christ/zombie apocalypse. I want to be buried with an extra pair of shoes – size 12’s – that I can give to my Granddaddy if the dead do rise from the grave, because I forgot his shoes when we buried him and that still bothers me.
And, with my many memorials, I will be fondly (if fictitiously) recalled as a mysterious – but deeply loved – father, husband and servant.